The Ottawa Senators are rolling on the road, and not even a traditionally tough swing through Western Canada is slowing them down.
Milan Michalek had a goal and an assist as the Senators won their third game in a row on a long road trip, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Thursday.
Colin Greening, Kaspars Daugavins, Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka also scored for the Senators (10-9-1) who have rebounded with their recent string of wins on the heels of a five-game slide.
“We had a tough start to the season and we have come a long ways since,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “We know where we want to be and that's what the season is for, to build and learn and get better. We are giving ourselves chances right now.”
Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson continued his strong play, making 22 saves.
It was the first time the Senators have won both games on a road trip through Alberta since 2003.
“I've been around for a long time and it is not too often we have won both games in Alberta,” Alfredsson said. “It feels great. Edmonton came out really strong but Anderson played unbelievable and kept us in the game. We got one and then another one quick and that took the air out of them.”
Anton Lander and Ryan Jones replied for the Oilers (9-7-2) who are heading in the opposite direction with four straight defeats and losses in five out of six following a six-game winning streak.
“We had a good first period going and then it all went kaput,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney.
Oiler forward Taylor Hall said the team has to wake up, and quickly.
“It was like after they scored those two goals we said ‘screw it' and decided to follow our own game plans,” he said. “There are holes in our game we need to fix and fix fast. Losing streaks can define you.”
After some tremendous early chances for the Oilers, the Senators took a 2-0 lead on their first two shots of the game on Edmonton starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
Seven and a half minutes into the match, the Senators broke away on a two-on-one and Michalek feathered a past through to Greening for his fifth goal of the season.
Just nine seconds later, Ottawa came flying off the faceoff and Daugavins blasted a shot that beat Khabibulin high to the glove side.
“Once we got that goal we were able to relax a little more and execute in our zone a little better,” said Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean. “Our role players have been very good for the last few games and know we are starting to get some goals out of them. It really helps the team and takes a lot of the weight off the other guys.”
The Senators made it 3-0 with just under a minute to play in the opening frame as Michalek blasted his 12th of the year into the Oiler net following a Spezza faceoff win.
Devan Dubnyk came in to replace Khabibulin in the Edmonton net to start the second period.
The Oilers got back into the game two minutes into the second on a short-handed break as Lander ripped a wrist shot past Anderson for his first NHL goal.
“Right now it's hard to feel to good about it since we lost, but I know I'll remember the goal,” Lander said.
Ottawa made it 4-1 five minutes later seconds after Oilers forward Jordan Eberle was hooked down in the Senators' zone on a scoring opportunity that had the fans howling when there was no call. Winchester took the puck up ice and beat Dubnyk up high for his first of the year.
Despite the score, the shots were 11-10 for Edmonton through 40 minutes.
The Oilers, who had Andy Sutton pulled out of the game right before the singing of the national anthem with a groin injury, were further hampered for the third as fellow defenceman Corey Potter did not come out to start the final period with a right ankle injury.
The Senators took a four-goal lead three minutes into the third when Konopka batted in a backhand shot in tight past Dubnyk.
Edmonton got a goal back on the power play in the final minute when an Eric Belanger shot caromed off a couple of legs, including finally off of Jones, and into the net.
The Oilers complete their two-game homestand with a game against Chicago on Saturday. The Senators play the fifth game of a six-game road trip in Vancouver on Sunday.
Notes: Oilers D Cam Barker will be out for about three months after undergoing ankle surgery. ... F Sam Gagner missed the game with a sore back. Magnus Paajarvi came back in to take his place. ... Also still out for the Oilers were Ryan Whitney and Darcy Hordichuk. ... There were no lineup changes, as D David Rundblad was a healthy scratch for a third straight game. ... Matt Carkner (knee), Peter Regin (shoulder) and Chris Neil (ankle) remained out with injury for the Senators. ... It was the first meeting of the season between the two teams, who split a pair of contest last season. The Sens came into the match with wins in seven of the previous eight games in this series and had won their last four games at Rexall Place in Edmonton. ... Anderson made his NHL high 18th start of the season.